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20.4.2021 : 8:41 : +0200

Chambering the Next Round: Emergent Small-calibre Cartridge Technologies

Emergent ammunition technologies are likely to prove key in future firearms designs. Emergent cartridge case technologies, the rise of the ‘general-purpose’ calibre, and other nascent technologies will affect the way in which firearms are designed, produced, managed in service, tactically employed, maintained, and sustained.

Chambering the Next Round: Emergent Small-calibre Cartridge Technologies, a new Working Paper by the Small Arms Survey, explores the significant developments in cartridge technology over the past decade. In part motivated by the experiences of recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, the development of emergent ammunition technologies has typically sought to fulfil two critical end-user requirements, namely:

  • to increase the range and lethality of standard-issue individual weapons; and
  • to reduce the overall combat load of infantry personnel.

Many of the emergent technologies discussed in this report are, or will be, compatible with one another, offering advanced synergies for the ammunition of tomorrow. The advent of new technologies that are applicable to small-calibre ammunition presents several policy implications and may contribute to proliferation concerns. This report considers the likely and current customers for these technologies, and examines how a potential surplus of current-standard ammunition created by the adoption of such technologies may contribute to proliferation concerns. Finally, an assessment of how these technologies will affect current and future marking, record-keeping, and tracing procedures, and what law enforcement challenges are posed by their adoption, will be of value to stakeholders.


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